A year and a few days ago a friend’s brother killed himself. I knew him, I liked him, sometimes he annoyed me. We weren’t close–we were tightly tied to the same people. This was after I’d learned how to read suicides in the news. Died suddenly is a phrase people like to use, especially in the media. MIT has ways they talk about these deaths in the community–they might be official or just polite. It’s that kind of glaring politeness that doesn’t help anyone. Died suddenly.

I remember my friends going to the funeral. I pictured them there, in their suits and dresses. They wore pants my middle school teachers would have called slacks. Blouses and collard shirts. Those are the words I used when I saw them in my mind–those outdated words that belonged to middle school teachers.

When my grandmother died, there was an open casket for the sake of my cousin. My aunt and uncle looked at the body and said some condescending things about how they’d done her up. My mom told me to look if I wanted to or if I was unsure. You’ll never have another chance.

I’ve seen two dead bodies in my life. One was my grandmother’s. One was the grandmother of some friends. We would hang out at her house. I showed up there one day and she was dead.

Death is a lot of waiting around. Someone called 911, and we had to wait all day for them to arrive. Hours and hours. The bathroom was on the second floor, next to the room where she–the body–lay in a bed. I kept going up there to try and catch a glimpse. I’d never seen death before.

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